Hymn.Aeterne Rex altissime.
Eternal Monarch, King most high,
Whose blood hath brought redemption nigh,
By whom the death of Death was wrought,
And conquering grace to man was brought
Ascending to the throne of might,
And seated at the Father’s right,
All power, O Jesu, is thine own,
That here thy Manhood had not known.
To thee the whole creation now
Doth in its three0fold order bow,
Of things on earth, and things on high,
And things that underneath do lie.
With awe the Angels contemplate
The wondrous change of man’s estate;
Though flesh hath sinned, Flesh purged the stain,
And in that Flesh our God doth reign
We therefore beg, dear Lord, of thee
To pardon our iniquity;
Yea, of thine own supernal grace
Uplift our hearts to seek thy face.
That when in clouds, O Judge of doom,
Thy glory shall this earth illume,
Thou mayst remit our debt of pain,
and grant our long-lost crowns again.
All praise from every heart and tongue,
To thee, ascended Lord, be sung;
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Ghost, forever more. Amen.
From a Sermon by St. Leo the Great
After the blessed and glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, (wherein was raised up in three days that true Temple of God which hath been destroyed by the impiety of Jewry,) there came by God’s providential ordering a season of forty days, the annual commemoration of which endeth on this day. The original great forty days, dearly beloved, were spent by the Lord in profitable instruction for our benefit. On this wise, his bodily presence was still given to the earth during all those forty days, that our faith in his resurrection might be armed with all needful proofs. For the death of Christ had troubled the hears of many of his disciples ; their thoughts were sad when they remembered his agony upon the cross, his giving up of the Ghost, and the burial in the grave of his lifeless body : and so a sort of hesitation had begun to weigh on them.
Hence the most blessed Apostles and all the disciples who had been fearful concerning the death on the cross, and doubtful of the trustworthiness of the report of Christ’s resurrection, were so strengthened by the clear demonstration of the truth, that, when they saw the Lord going up into the heights of heaven, they sorrowed not ; nay, they were filled with great joy. And, in all verity, it was a mighty and unspeakable cause of rejoicing for all the holy multitude of believers, when they perceived that the nature of mankind was thus exalted above all creatures, even the heavenly spirits, so as to pass above the ranks of the Angels, and be raised beyond the heights of the Archangels. For on this wise they perceived that no limit was set upon the uplifting of that nature short of the right hand of the Eternal Father, where it was to be Sharer of his throne, and Partaker of his glory ; and nevertheless it was still nothing more than that nature of man, which the Son hath taken upon him.
Therefore, dearly beloved, let us also rejoice with fitting joy. For the Ascension of Christ is exaltation for us. And whither the glory of the Head of the Church is passed in, thither is the hope of the body of the Church called on to follow. Let us rejoice with exceeding great joy, and give God glad thanks. This day is not only the possession of paradise made sure unto us, but in Christ our Head we are actually entering into the heavenly mansions above. Through the unspeakable goodness of Christ we have gained more than ever we lost by the envy of the devil. For those whom our venomous enemy cast down from the happiness of their first estate, these same hath the son of God made to be of one body with himself, and hath given them a place at the right hand of the Father : with whom he liveth and reigneth, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever on God, world without end. Amen.